Living in Wisconsin, it’s natural for me to like cheese. I’ve also gotten spoiled with the different varieties of cheeses I can buy. One of my favorite things to make is Crock-Pot Mac and Cheese, which includes three different kinds of cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food recipe that’s absolutely amazing. I guarantee you’ll want to eat this straight from the crock-pot and not even both with a bowl.
Needed: 6 quart crockpot (4 quart might fit but I wouldn’t chance it)
Optional: crock-pot liner to avoid messy crockpot afterwards
1 pound (16 oz) cellentani pasta* (also known as cavatappi), uncooked
*use Barilla brand if possible
6-8 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced into 1-tbsp pieces
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-oz pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (sub. for black pepper if you don’t want as much of a kick)
3 cups whole milk
Have some extra milk if it looks dry to stir in
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh shredded Pepper Jack cheese
Pour the uncooked pasta onto the bottom of your slow cooker. Scatter the butter and cream cheese pieces over the pasta. Sprinkle the salt and cayenne pepper over the top and pour the milk and cream into the slow cooker. Stir to combine everything and smooth the pasta into one even layer coated in sauce. Cover and cook on high for 1-1 1/2 hours until the pasta is chewy (not quite crunchy, but very al dente). Your cook time will vary if you use a different pasta, so start with 1 hour and adjust from there. Stir once or twice throughout the cooking time and be sure to smooth the pasta into one layer so it is well coated with the sauce. Once the pasta is ready, sprinkle on the cheddar and pepper Jack cheeses and stir to combine. The cheese will melt into the sauce to create the most luxurious creamy cheese sauce. Cover the mac and cheese and cook for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and it comes together. Stir before serving.
The cheese sauce will thicken as it cools. If you plan to hold the mac and cheese in the slow cooker on warm, add extra milk as needed to keep the sauce nice and creamy. Also, if you are going to refrigerate it to eat later, add enough milk to the pasta to thin out the sauce before refrigerating. That way when you pull it out, it will scoop easily and the mac and cheese will warm up perfectly in the microwave or on the stovetop.